History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 22

While Rhodey adapts to being the Armored Avenger, Tony fights back from his lowest point!

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By Jim Beard

50 Years ago, Tony Stark became Iron Man, a historic milestone in the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.

Flash forward half a century, and the Armored Avenger has become a worldwide sensation. Beyond his prominent role across the Marvel Comics line, Shellhead hit the big screen in 2008 as Robert Downey Jr. brought Tony Stark to life in the first “Iron Man” movie. The character’s popularity grew in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” and 2011’s “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

On May 3, 2013, Tony Stark returns to theaters everywhere in “Iron Man 3.” In anticipation of this momentous occasion and to celebrate Iron Man’s 50th anniversary, each week Marvel.com will be bringing you another chapter in the history of this complex and beloved character. Year by year, get an in-depth rundown of the trials, foes and experiences that have made Iron Man the hero he stands as today.

You can start here.

Also, be sure to visit the Marvel Digital Comics Shop and Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited to read 50 years’ worth of Iron Man adventures!

In 1984, the new Iron Man began to fill his role as a mercenary hero while the first Armored Avenger pulled himself up from despair to try and build a new life.

With Tony Stark wandering the streets destitute and drunk in IRON MAN #178, his tragic tale played out in the form of a gang of kids who idolized the Avengers and “fired” their own young “Iron Man.” Then, in IRON MAN #179, the real hero—James Rhodes, Stark’s replacement—battled the Radioactive Man in Hong Kong while his former boss struck up a friendship with a homeless woman, Gretl.

While Rhodey encountered Iron Man’s old foe the Mandarin in IRON MAN #180, Stark himself slipped deeper and deeper into his drinking. Only a strange illness that took hold of Rhodey saved him from the Mandarin’s lethal hospitality in IRON MAN #181.

Around this time came one of the greatest challenges that Earth’s super heroes ever faced. In MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS, Iron Man and his fellow costumed crusaders found themselves whisked away to a strange alien planet by a seemingly omnipotent entity called the Beyonder. There, on that world, they became embroiled in a fight to the death and Rhodey came away from it with more experience in his role as well as some new technology for his armor.

Back on Earth, Tony Stark made his way through a snowstorm in IRON MAN #182 to help Gretl with her pregnancy. Sadly, she died, but not before giving birth, an event that, coupled with his own near-brush with death, convinced the former billionaire to finally try to beat his alcoholism and put his past behind him for good. To this end he asked Rhodey for help.

In IRON MAN #183, Rhodey dispensed with the Beyonder’s technology in his armor and began to operate without one of Iron Man’s most important weapons, his repulsors. Tony Stark joined with his former employee and friend, as well as Clytemnestra and Morley Erwin, in IRON MAN #184 to head to California and start a new electronics company. Unfortunately, Taurus and the Zodiac made it a bit difficult for the group as they drove west, forcing Iron Man to jet in and save the day.

Rhodey’s resentment, for lack of a better word, against Tony for his old boss’ help with his role as the Golden Avenger began to fester in IRON MAN #185, a situation that only grew worse in IRON MAN #186 when Cly, Morley and Tony worked hard on their new company in Silicon Valley and Iron Man faced off against the mutant villain Vibro. Tony rebuilt the armor’s repulsors in IRON MAN #187 and Rhodey began to experience strange headaches…

Circuits Maximus, the new firm founded by Morley, Morley, Stark and Rhodes, debuted in IRON MAN #188, just in time for a couple of thugs to discover the Brothers Grimm’s old costumes and weapons and go on a crime spree. Iron Man took care of them, but Rhodey’s headaches began to grow worse and worse. Then, to wrap up the year in IRON MAN #189, Tony Stark dropped his latest bombshell: he wanted his armor—and the name of Iron Man—back for good.

Check out IRON MAN (1968) on the Marvel Digital Comics Shop, plus more Iron Man is available to subscribers of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

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